Sunday, November 11, 2018

Microphotography for $20

Yesterday I ordered an inexpensive USB microscope on Amazon and it arrived this afternoon at 2pm. That's amazing in itself but the real surprise is that the microscope actually lives up to its description.

My purpose for the gadget will be to look at solder joints on SMD parts, especially those tiny multi-legged ones, on upcoming projects.

Close-focusing USB cameras have  been around for a while but lacked several of the features contained in recent models such as this one, which can quite correctly be considered a piece of test equipment for the kit builder.

I have an old ATS-4B on the shelf begging to be built and it will be nice to give everything a good looking over before applying power.

And, to inspire young minds, it easily provides interesting views of bugs, salt crystals and other targets of opportunity.

The camera has four controls: a focusing ring, a shutter button, a magnification switch and an inline
adjustment for the brightness of the LED's that illuminate the object being examined. To adjust magnification, the magnification switch is held in while turning the focusing ring - the focus ring then becomes the magnification (zoom) control.

The plug of the camera can either plug into a USB or a microUSB port on many types of smartphones and tablets. I was able to use the camera with my desktop PC running Windows 10, my old Samsung Note 4 phone and a Tab 4 tablet. For use on the Android devices, a brief manual that comes with the camera recommends installing one (or all) of four free apps. I installed only the first two and the camera worked fine with both of them.

For use with a PC, an included CD contains both the drivers and a small program that opens when the camera is plugged into a USB port. A small stand is provided with the camera but all the photos shown here were taken handheld.

Click on any photo for a larger version:
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QCX D5


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4 pins of an SMD chip

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Part of T1 on my QCX kit

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Another view of QCX T1
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Flat side of a BS170 transistor

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Date stamp on a US dime

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6 comments:

  1. Wow, great quality images! Might have to get one of those. BTW, like the equipment in your shack. What brand antenna tuner is that at upper right? What antennas are you using? Do you use the KX2 as a base rig with the linear?

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  2. Palstar AT2K, Force 12 Yagi (10-20m), dipole (30-80m), sometimes.

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  3. Thanks for the tip on the microscope John. This thing works great! Very nice for checking SMD devices.

    73,

    Tim
    KA9EAK

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    1. Hi Tim - I'll probably need to use it to find my piece of the pumpkin pie after it circulates around the table to me. 73 - John

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  4. What's the native resolution of this camera? I clicked on the first photo for the "larger" photo but it's only 640x480! If this is only capable of 640x480 it is ancient technology. Roy WA0YMH

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    1. The photos were cropped to fit the website. My purpose in buying the camera is to see small parts, up close with clarity. A numerical designation of resolution is far less relevant than whether or not the camera does what I paid $20 for it to do. I don't (so far) have any plans on producing framed prints for my shack walls of the various components I've photographed.

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